[erlang-questions] Erlang for youngsters

Torben Hoffmann torben.hoffmann@REDACTED
Mon Jun 16 20:58:20 CEST 2014

Loïc Hoguin writes:

> I don't think the problem is so much that these things are hard to 
> learn, but rather that you *have* to learn them. OO was hard to learn. 
> Pointers took me a while also. In comparison Erlang was very fast to get 
> started with as I started writing parsers for binary files immediately, 
> then later on making it parallel and eventually learnt OTP and did other 
> small things with the language.
> At the time there was basically no resources. LYSE had about 5 chapters 
> so I didn't really use it. A few blog posts here and there helped a 
> little, but it was mostly Joe's book. Today we have tons of resources. I 
> do not think the docs problem shown by Garrett is the reason why Erlang 
> is hard to learn. I think it's just correlation. (Of course some of the 
> OTP docs are terrible, like sofs and bits of the common_test guide, but 
> the docs on erlang.org are impressive; only they do not help the Erlang 
> beginner, this is covered by Joe's book, LYSE and others.) If there is 
> causation then a link to the free version of LYSE from the erlang.org 
> docs page should be plenty enough to fix it.
> What I think is that people say Erlang is hard to learn because they 
> expect to go from 0 knowledge to be able to use it for their job in a 
> few hours. This is plain crazy, nobody learnt OO in a day, and nobody 
> can learn concurrent/fault tolerant in a day. And it's even harder if 
> your mind is stuck on a particular paradigm.
I think this is remarkably well put. It sort of hints the head on the nail for me.
Respect for the learning curve. I too see a tendency of this from time to time.

Thanks for articulating that, Loïc!

> Learning takes time. In today's impatient world this is seen as a 
> weakness, but those who do take the time to learn Erlang get an 
> exponential reward for their troubles. This is unfortunately hard to 
> demonstrate to people who want everything immediately without the effort.
> But to kids who have never done programming before? They'll learn Erlang 
> as easily as anything else. When you first start programming even "hello 
> world" is a magical moment. When you've programmed for years it's a very 
> boring moment and you want to skip ahead, which is impossible if you 
> have to learn a new paradigm entirely. Kids do not have that problem. So 
> stop worrying and teach them Erlang.
A kinderd spirit.

So this boils down to motivation to sustain through the learning curve and pureness
of the fresh minds to avoid having to unlearn other paradigms.


> On 06/16/2014 12:20 PM, Anthony Ramine wrote:
>> Did anyone ever wonder whether Erlang is truly hard to learn, or if it is just how fault-tolerant, concurrent, distributed programming is by definition?

Torben Hoffmann
Erlang Solutions Ltd.
Tel: +45 25 14 05 38

More information about the erlang-questions mailing list